The Joy Formidable
added: 20 Jan 2013
// release date: 21 Jan 2013 // label: Atlantic
reviewer: Paul Chapinal
Wolf’s Law, the new album from the Joy Formidable builds on their debut, The Big Roar, if not managing to leave it trailing in the wake.
Opening with the driving, indie/pop of The Ladder is Ours, the band are swiftly into their groove. Cholla’s oddly distorted fuzz follows, and then segues perfectly into the complicated, atmospheric Tendons. The short Little Blimp’s bass intro gives way to an avalanche of a song driven by the rhythm section.
Bats, at face value a distorted pile-driver that on subsequent listens gives away some serious work going on below the surface. On the plaintive, if dull Silent Treatment, Ritzy Bryan’s voice at last comes into its own, with a sensitive glacial performance.
A deceptive intro takes us into the supercharged, sprawling, imperial Maw Maw Song. After that the earnestness of both the Forest Serenade, and The Leopard and The Lung are a bit of a disappointment. In fact the album doesn’t really reach the heights of Maw Maw… again. Into the home run there’s The Hurdle; a jaunty, bouncy song. In complete contrast, The Turnaround sounds like a song looking for a film. The album closes with the title track, which is ok but a bit of a damp squib and peters out, as if the band just lost interest.
The performances are first class, as a unit they are in the same ball park as Rush; they are that good. Their production is chromed but the songs still retain enough grit so as not to be totally antiseptic. Having said that, unlike some albums, this is quite immediate and it’s with repeated listens that the weaknesses start to appear. The lurches into a wall of sound, means it can seem repetitive, and the album could easily have a lost a song or two without any harm.
Nevertheless this a step forward from The Big Roar, being more ambitious and courageous in scope and execution. It sounds as if this band is going to be around for a while, and that's exciting.
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